, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 361-370

Previous outpatient antibiotic use in patients admitted to hospital for COPD exacerbations: room for improvement

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Several studies have analyzed factors associated to hospitalization in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients. However, data are lacking on the quality of treatment received by patients prior to hospital admission. The present study analyzed how often patients requiring hospitalization for a COPD exacerbation had received previous treatment for the exacerbation, particularly antibiotics.


This was a multicenter, cross-sectional, observational study conducted in 30 Spanish hospitals among COPD patients aged >40 years who were hospitalized for an acute exacerbation. Patients were grouped according to whether or not they had received treatment prior to admission and, subsequently, according to whether or not they had received antibiotics. Patient eligibility for antibiotic therapy was assessed using both national and European guidelines.


The study population consisted of 298 patients, of which 277 (93 %) were men, with a mean [standard deviation (SD)] age of 69.1 (9.5) years. One hundred and thirty-three patients (45 %) had received treatment prior to admission; among these, 76/133 (57 %) had received antibiotic therapy. However, 81–91 % of these patients fulfilled criteria for this therapy. Antibiotic use was significantly associated with yellow or green–yellow sputum prior to the exacerbation, a higher number of exacerbations in the previous year, more visits to emergency departments, and bronchiectasis. On the other hand, 10–20 % of patients who did receive antibiotics were not eligible for this therapy according to guidelines.


This study demonstrates a low rate of previous outpatient treatment and antibiotic use among patients with a COPD exacerbation requiring hospital admission.